I’m In A Ditch And I Can’t Get Out

Yesterday was another memorable day in the life of Grace Fellowship.  Our 1st service begins at 9:30am and at 9:02 am I received a call from my longtime friend John Wills who was our guest preacher for the day.  He said he was in his truck – stuck in a ditch on some country road near Paradise – and couldn’t get out! 

I took off in my truck to “RESCUE” him.  After winding around some of the crazy Country Roads that twist & turn everywhere I came over a hill to see his truck sitting perpendicular to the road with his rear tires in the ditch and the front of his truck sticking out over the right lane.  This was a Kodak moment that I missed.

I was able to pull him out of the ditch with my GMC Pickup – he was driving a Toyota Tundra  (that’s a whole nother story!).  He followed me back to Grace and we walked in about 5 minutes before he was supposed to preach.  As he said at the beginning of his message – it was a day that I won’t soon let him forget!

But it was a more memorable day because of the message John brought about hearing the voice of God in your life.  He asked several penetrating questions.  He said in a pinch we’ll listen to the voice we are most familiar with – so are you familiar with the voice of God.  Then he reminded us that the way to get familiar with the Father’s voice is to spend time with Him; listening to Him in prayer and by reading & listening to the Word of God.  This was a powerful statement: You don’t know what God’s voice sounds like if you don’t read the Word of God.

As I reflected on the message and what God said to me, I was reminded that I want to be captivated by God’s Word.  I want to know it – understand it – memorize it – meditate on it – live it out & apply it so in any crowd or situation I’ll be able to clearly distinguish God’s voice.

And then as I was reading in Deuteronomy and 1 Corinthians today – a couple of things hit me hard about my life, about many churches in general and about our culture.

1 Cor. 10:11 CEV states: These things happened to them as a warning to us. All this was written in the Scriptures to teach us who live in these last days.

In 1 Cor. 10, Paul was referring to the Israelites and the things that were written down were the things in the Old Testament.  So as we look at the Old Testament, we’re to remember it was written to give us examples, warnings and instruction in this current day.  Yes, we’re under the New Covenant (New Testament), but the Old Covenant (Old Testament) is truth that gives us examples, warnings & instruction.

Jesus said in  John 14:21 NIV  “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” 

So as I read Deuteronomy 28 this morning, I reflected upon the example, instruction and warnings within.  I also remembered these words were written to God’s people.

I also wondered if any of you would read it, and if we’d hear the voice of God in His Word as we read.  You can look it up, or read it here as I’ve added it to this blog. 

For those of you concerned about your CHILDREN – there are some powerful promises & warnings in Deut. 28.

For those of you concerned about OUR NATION – there are some powerful promises and warnings in Deut. 28.

Deuteronomy 28 is long; it starts off great, but the warnings that follow are difficult to read.  By the way – God’s commands & reprimands are always for our protection & provision.  God’s reprimands are to help us see our sin – confess & repent of it & be restored to fellowship & intimacy with Him.

1 “Now it shall be, if you will diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you will obey the LORD your God.

3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. 4 Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock. 5 Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 6 Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

7 “The LORD will cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they shall come out against you one way and shall flee before you seven ways. 8 The LORD will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God gives you.

9 The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you will keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and walk in His ways. 10 So all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of you. 11 And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.

12 The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.

13 And the LORD shall make you the head and not the tail, and you only shall be above, and you shall not be underneath, if you will listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully, 14 and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

15 “But it shall come about, if you will not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.

16 Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country. 17 Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

18 Cursed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock. 19 Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.

20 “The LORD will send upon you curses, confusion, and rebuke, in all you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken Me.

21 The LORD will make the pestilence cling to you until He has consumed you from the land, where you are entering to possess it. 22 The LORD will smite you with consumption and with fever and with inflammation and with fiery heat and with the sword and with blight and with mildew, and they shall pursue you until you perish.

23 And the heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you, iron. 24 The LORD will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed. 25 The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them, but you shall flee seven ways before them, and you shall be an example of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 26 And your carcasses shall be food to all birds of the sky and to the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away.

27 “The LORD will smite you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors and with the scab and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed. 28 The LORD will smite you with madness and with blindness and with bewilderment of heart; 29 and you shall grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you.

30 You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall violate her; you shall build a house, but you shall not live in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but you shall not use its fruit.

31 Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat of it; your donkey shall be torn away from you, and shall not be restored to you; your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you shall have none to save you. 

32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes shall look on and yearn for them continually; but there shall be nothing you can do.

33 A people whom you do not know shall eat up the produce of your ground and all your labors, and you shall never be anything but oppressed and crushed continually. 34 And you shall be driven mad by the sight of what you see. 

35 The LORD will strike you on the knees and legs with sore boils, from which you cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head. 36 The LORD will bring you and your king, whom you shall set over you, to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone. 37 And you shall become a horror, a proverb, and a taunt among all the people where the LORD will drive you.

38 “You shall bring out much seed to the field but you shall gather in little, for the locust shall consume it. 39 You shall plant and cultivate vineyards, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm shall devour them. 40 You shall have olive trees throughout your territory but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives shall drop off.

41 You shall have sons and daughters but they shall not be yours, for they shall go into captivity.

42 The cricket shall possess all your trees and the produce of your ground. 43 The alien who is among you shall rise above you higher and higher, but you shall go down lower and lower. 44 He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.

45 So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the LORD your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. 46 And they shall become a sign and a wonder on you and your descendants forever. 47 Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD shall send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you.

49 “The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand, 50 a nation of fierce countenance who shall have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young. 51 Moreover, it shall eat the offspring of your herd and the produce of your ground until you are destroyed, who also leaves you no grain, new wine, or oil, nor the increase of your herd or the young of your flock until they have caused you to perish. 52 And it shall besiege you in all your towns until your high and fortified walls in which you trusted come down throughout your land, and it shall besiege you in all your towns throughout your land which the LORD your God has given you. 53 Then you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters whom the LORD your God has given you, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy shall oppress you.

54 The man who is refined and very delicate among you shall be hostile toward his brother and toward the wife he cherishes and toward the rest of his children who remain, 55 so that he will not give even one of them any of the flesh of his children which he shall eat, since he has nothing else left, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy shall oppress you in all your towns.

56 The refined and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground for delicateness and refinement, shall be hostile toward the husband she cherishes and toward her son and daughter, 57 and toward her afterbirth which issues from between her legs and toward her children whom she bears; for she shall eat them secretly for lack of anything else, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy shall oppress you in your towns.

58 “If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the LORD your God, 59 then the LORD will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sicknesses. 60 And He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you.

61 Also every sickness and every plague which, not written in the book of this law, the LORD will bring on you until you are destroyed. 62 Then you shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven for multitude, because you did not obey the LORD your God.

63 And it shall come about that as the LORD delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so the LORD will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you shall be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it.

64 Moreover, the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known. 65 And among those nations you shall find no rest, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul.

66 So your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you shall be in dread night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life. 67 In the morning you shall say, ‘Would that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Would that it were morning!’ because of the dread of your heart which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you shall see. 68 And the LORD will bring you back to Egypt in ships, by the way about which I spoke to you, ‘You will never see it again!’ And there you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer.”

About bjrutledge

BJ & Janet were married in July 1977 They have three grown children who are all married: Jeremy & Whitney Rutledge, Chris & Julie Hurst, and Josh and Hannah Rutledge. They also have four grandsons, and a granddaughter. BJ says perhaps our greatest legacy is even though our kids are PK's, they love Jesus and are all involved in ministry in the local church. BJ has served at churches in Dallas - Bossier City, LA - Houston - and was at Fellowship of the Woodlands (Woodlands Church) in The Woodlands before coming to Grace Fellowship. BJ is the Lead Pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Paradise, TX.
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